Epigenetics is a discipline that studies changes in the genome that are produced by environmental and hereditary factors. Thanks to this, the world is now aware that certain vital experiences are modifying the human genetic code. The molecular imprint of stress is one of the factors currently being studied.
This is because it changes the information that predisposes people to certain diseases.
Stress is a feeling of physical and mental tension, which can be very detrimental to health, despite the fact that it has a fundamental adaptive role, as it puts the body on alert. Levels of adrenaline and cortisol increase when people are stressed.
It is a state of overexposure that alters the response of the immune system, digestive system and other growth processes.
Therefore, researchers around the world are studying whether these changes are somehow part of the genetic information. Perhaps their offspring and future generations will inherit these modifications.
“Do not stress over what could have happened. If it had to happen, it would have happened. ”
The molecular imprint of stress
To learn more about the molecular imprint of stress, a group from the Tuft University School of Medicine studied what happens in a generational line. What they found was that both children and grandchildren showed symptoms related to the stress that their ancestors had suffered from.
Likewise, they also studied the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially in pregnant women and their children.
This process is an evolutionary mechanism that makes it possible to adapt to the environment. Therefore, one can interpret it as if a child or grandchild’s genetic information changes as an adaptive response. In addition, it can lead to aggressive behavior in children.
It is a known fact that genes and the environment interact in two ways. Thus, a genetic factor can protect against an environmental adversity, while an environmental factor can affect a genetic trait predisposed to disease.
As mentioned above, the studies found that stress can alter the function of the genome and even pass it on for generations.
A study by the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Scripps Research Institute identified a number of genes that can alter the response to stress and the effect on mood.
In other words, they found that individuals who had previously suffered from severe stress or mood disorders showed a change in the levels of the ANK3 gene. This is related to early aging and shorter lifespan.
The molecular imprint of stress and cardiovascular disease
Another study conducted by Duke University analyzed the interaction of genes with the environment in the context of cardiovascular disease. In the study, they identified a genetic variant, which
Interestingly, stress is related to these medical conditions, but in addition , this predisposition could be genetic according to this study. In particular, those that have specific polymorphisms in the EBF1 gene are at greater risk. This is because this gene plays a central role in the development of the immune system.
In short, the molecular imprint of stress can not only determine the risk of future diseases, but it is also transmissible and can affect the susceptibility of your offspring. Therefore, in order to reduce its impact in the short term, you need to know how to use the tools that can help you deal with stress.